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Let's say you're a 23 year old man who impregnates a woman. Will your genes be the same if you were to impregnate another woman at age 35? Will your genes in those 12 years have changed/mutated/become-smarter ?

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4  
Epigenetic changes over time is certainly possible. –  Bez May 16 at 15:52
    
I believe that's amazing then... –  Marin May 16 at 16:01

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

Yes, there are some differences between the gametes that a parent produces at different ages!

Mutations in the germline during mitosis

Every time a cell replicates some mutations may occur (even through mitosis). Of course any mutation that occurs in cells are located in your hand or in your brain for example will not be transmitted to the offsprings. Only mutations occurring in the germline (cells in the testis and in the ovaries whose descendent or themselves go through meiosis) are possibly pass to the offsprings. Interestingly, because of the developmental pathways of sperm cells and ovules, sperm cells go through a lot more mitosis than ovules do, resulting in more mutations in the sperms than in the ovules. Therefore, if you look at a mutation in an individual and assuming you know that the mutation occurred during the lifetime of the parents, then you are more likely that the mutation comes from the father than from the mother.

As reviewed by Cochran and Harpending (2013), mothers transmits on average a number x of new mutations to their offspring. This number x is independent of the age of the Mother. Fathers, however transmit a number of new mutations to their offsprings that is very much dependent on the age of the father for developmental reasons.

Of course as it has been pointed out there are various environmental factors that may increase or diminish the mutation rate (such as the mutagens (Tobacco, X-ray, ..))

Note on the process of adaptation

It is important to know that vast majority of mutations are deleterious (impact negatively the reproductive success and survival (fitness) of the individual carrying it). If we assume that no selection occurs between the cells of the germline, then no adaptation is possible. And in average sperm cells of an old guy should have lower fitness than the sperm cells of the same guy when he was younger. However one may argue the opposite! One might think that the sperm cells (to talk only about them) that carry the new mutation (the mutation that occurred during the lifetime of the man) may be selected for or counter selected in terms of its survival or in terms of its ability to "run" to the ovule.

Epigenetics

We have to talk about epigenetics also. Epigenetics refer to all the modification that occur "around" or "on" the DNA but which are not modification of the sequence of nucleotides. It is possible that the transmission of epigenetic modification is dependent on the age of the parents. But I have never heard of any case where this happen.

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Where do you get that info about parental transmission of epigenetics in order to speed up /slow down the baby's development? You're contradicting yourself here by saying there's nothing, and then saying what there is. Aside from that, telomerase is active in germ cells and thus the transmitted telomere length will not be affected by parents' age (jcs.biologists.org/content/115/8/1643.full.pdf - it would be a bit weird if it was any other way) –  Armatus Aug 24 at 20:56
    
Thks, I removed the Telomere part. It's been a long I was waiting for someone coming with a reference on the subject. I felt that a part of my epigenetics paragraph was not relevant to the question so I removed it. I didn't get where was my contradiction so let me know if you still see this contradiction (you can copy-past the sentences that contradict). What I wrote was in relation to the hypothetical parental conflict origin of genomic imprinting. –  Remi.b Aug 24 at 21:16
    
The contradiction is gone now - it was exactly the part after "I've never heard of any case" that caused that (because you then went on to explain a case that you heard of) :) –  Armatus Aug 24 at 22:26

Pre-sperm cells divide constantly, and will have more mutations in 12 years. Unfortunately, neither the genes (nor the father) are likely to be smarter. There is some evidence that children from older fathers are more prone to diseases like autism and schizophrenia.

A very nice, short overview of the current research is in this (open-source) Nature article.

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Genes can get mutated in one's lifetime. They gene altering agents are mutagens. Some common mutagens are X-ray, UV-ray, tobacco.

Recent studies have yielded results which state that some behavioral actions may cause gene mutations.

So, yes in twelve years gene can mutate. Moreover as a man ages his efficiency of meiosis division is affected. So, genes may differently get expressed in his progenies.

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